Our Church Building


The following information  is from the book:

“St. Francis de Sales, Island Bay, Parish History ”

edited by Pat Hutchison 

  • The building of the first St. Francis de Sales Parish Church was completed in 1906:  ‘It was built on The Parade (number 75) of wood and considered at the time to be a substantial building.’
  • Island Bay officially became a parish in 1920
  • The Parish church on The Parade was enlarged in 1922 with a extension that provided a 50% more space.
  • In November 1931 the hall in Humber Street, owned by the parish since1920, had been converted from a theatre and was opened as a second church in Island Bay – Church of the Holy Name of Jesus.  The structure of the church was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1942 making it unsafe.  It was used for storage and then sold in 1952.  ‘The once impressive old building still stands and is now used by a commercial film-making company’
  • The church on The Parade was widened by approximately 60cm in 1940.
  • In 1968 the buildings at 75 The Parade were sold to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The church is now named after Saint Sava (who is considered the founder of the independent Church, and celebrated as the patron saint of education and medicine by Serbian Orthodox Christians).
The land for a new Parish Church was purchased in 1946.
At that time there was a large two storey house on the property and this was used as a hostel for refugee Polish boys until it was demolished in 1959.
  Fundraising began in earnest in 1961 and the foundation stone of the new church was blessed by Archbishop McKeefry on May 16 1965.

These three photographs courtesy of the Archives, St Francis de Sales Parish.

The architect for the new church was Jason Smith from the firm of King and Dawson
(Smith was also the architect who designed the Freyberg swimming pool).
The Builder was J. H. Milne.



The design is fan-shaped with the interior converging towards a central altar. which in turn is dominated by a large striking mosaic of Christ on the cross, made from 135000 pieces of ceramic glass and plastic tiles.  The exterior building material is ferro-concrete.


The altar of Italian black marble is placed well forward so that it can easily be seen by all seated in the church.

The two side altars are made of the same Italian marble as the main altar.
The wooden statues of Our Lady and Saint Joseph on the side altars were also imported from Italy.


The Plaster statue of Saint Anthony was formerly used in an earlier church on The Parade.

So too was the smaller of the two bells hanging in the bell tower.
The larger bell was cast by Wm Cable and Co. to harmonise with it

  An innovative feature of the porch is the fine coloured window backdrop featuring the patron saint of the parish, St. Francis de Sales.  Although seemingly glass, the mosaic is made of vividly stained pieces of polyester resin and is the first example of the use of this material on such a large scale in church artwork in New Zealand.
It was made by Hamptons of Christchurch.